Editor’s Note: Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) took to the House floor on January 10th to explain why he is not going to attend the inaugural ceremonies on January 20.
Mr. Speaker, let me tell you where I will not be on inauguration day. I will not be here or outside at the inauguration ceremony.
I will be in Washington late that evening because the event I am going to is on January 21st. It is the Women’s March on Washington.
You can get more information on Facebook which is how I heard about it. Or I should say, how my wife Soraida heard about it.
I said to her a little after election day, I said, “You know honey, I don’t think I can go to DC and watch Donald Trump get sworn in,” and she said, “oh you’re going to Washington, just not for that” and she told me about the women’s march.
She said you and I are going together.
I want to be able to look my two beautiful Latina daughters and my beautiful half-Puerto Rican, half-Mexican, 100% American grandson in the eye with a clear conscience.
Now, I can already hear the phones ringing in my office with people calling to say, “Oh, you Democrats are sore losers and you just hate Republicans.”
No. I went to two George Bush inaugurations and I work with Republicans all the time. Just read Breitbart which seems to write an article anytime I even glance favorably at a Republican colleague.
But this is different.
I knew that George W. Bush and I would disagree on many issues from trade to health care to the war in Iraq, but I never thought George W. Bush was trying to make my own country hostile to me, my wife, my daughters and my grandson. I never felt he was a threat to the nation I love so deeply and have served now for almost a quarter century.
The reason I am not going is that I cannot bring myself to justify morally or intellectually the immense power we are placing in that man’s hands.
I could not look at my wife, my daughters or my grandson in the eye if I sat there and attended as if everything that candidate Donald Trump had said about The women, about The Latinos, or The Blacks, The Muslims or any of the other things he said in his speeches and Tweets – that any of that is OK or erased from my memory.
We all heard the tape when Donald Trump was bragging – bragging – about grabbing women by their private parts without their consent.
It is something I can never un-hear.
Bragging to that guy on TV that he would grab women below the belt as a way of hitting on them.
Sorry. That is never OK. It is never just locker room talk. It is offensive and, if he ever actually did it, it is criminal.
I hang out with Republicans – with Republican elected-officials…in an actual locker room in the Rayburn Building and if they ever started talking like that, I wouldn’t just walk away, I would tell them to their faces why they are wrong and I would not allow it to go unnoticed or be dismissed as normal or excusable. I don’t know a Republican Member of this body who would let that type of comment just slide by as if it were OK.
So that’s why I will hold hands with my wife and march with the women on January 21st in Washington.
And that is why I am calling on all of my progressive allies to come march with the women as well.
If you care about a living wage, come join the women. If you care about the environment, come join the march.
We know as a society, when women win, we all win, so I plan to be there
It is deeply personal and deeply patriotic to march, to make my opinions known by walking with my allies arm-in-arm.
I want to be able to look my two beautiful Latina daughters and my beautiful half-Puerto Rican/half-Mexican, 100% American grandson in the eye with a clear conscience.
When the new President denigrates Latinos or Mexicans or immigrants as drug-dealers and criminals, I want to be able to say I did not condone or allow that type of speech to go mainstream; That was not normalized on my watch.
Because the future President said the American-born children of immigrants were not capable of being American judges, I cannot sit there at his inauguration as if that is OK and I forgive him.
I am deeply honored to return to the U.S. Congress, and I want to thank the people of the Fourth District for the trust and confidence they have placed in me.
My constituents knew when they voted for me that I would be a fighter and I cannot let them down.
If the new President comes for the Muslims, I will be a Muslim.
If they come for Planned Parenthood, I will stand with Planned Parenthood.
When they deny climate science, I will make my voice heard.
I will use whatever peaceful means available to make sure the words and actions of our new President do not become the new mainstream.
And that, Mr. Speaker, is why I will not be here for the inauguration and why I will be marching with women from across the country.
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez is beginning his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois. He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Co-Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.